The Academic Job Interview: 3 Do’s and Don’ts When Preparing for Your Teaching Demonstration

how to prepare for the teaching demonstration faculty job interview

Going on the academic job market? Here are 3 do’s and don’ts when preparing for your teaching demonstration.

Most faculty job interviews include a research presentation and a teaching demonstration as part of the on campus interview process. As a graduate student or postdoctoral scholar, you are an expert in your research. You know how to design experiments, test your ideas, and analyze the findings. You probably feel confident and prepared for your research presentation.

But, you may not feel as prepared for your teaching demonstration, especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to gain much teaching experience in graduate school or during your postdoc appointment.

In this article, let’s explore three things you need to consider as you prepare for your teaching demonstration so you feel confident and ready to ace this part of the interview!


First, what is the teaching demonstration?

There are two main types of teaching demonstrations: the “in class” demonstration and the “open” demonstration. If you’re asked to give an “in class” demonstration, then you will be the guest lecturer for students in an actual course and you will teach in their classroom. The topic will most likely relate to the course material and fit into the course syllabus.

In an “open” demonstration, you will be teaching to a mixed audience that may include undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, faculty, staff, and campus leaders. They will be invited and have volunteered to attend. The topic will most likely relate to your research or a topic you would likely teach in a course in that department. Your “classroom” will probably be a conference room.

There are pros and cons to both formats and every department will do things differently. Make sure you know the type of teaching demonstration you’ll be expected to give and learn as much as you can about your audience before your campus visit.

As you prepare for your teaching demonstration, here are a few ideas to consider.


3 Do’s and Don’ts When Preparing for Your Teaching Demonstration:


1. Do teach. Don’t give a presentation.

Search committees want to see how you facilitate students’ learning. Teaching is about organizing complex information and helping students make sense of it. You’re not giving a presentation about how you teach or showing students how much you know about the topic. You must shift your focus and demonstrate that you know how to create an environment where students can learn.

2. Do engage the students. Don’t talk at them.

Search committees want to see how you connect with and engage students. If you are delivering a lecture and you could give that lecture without any students in the room, then you need to re-think your approach. Don’t talk “at” students the whole time. Talk “with” students, and give them time to talk with each other.

The teaching demonstration is different than teaching your own course because it’s a one-time event. You most likely will not know any of the students, and you’ll have to figure out how to establish rapport with these students while also demonstrating how effectively you teach.

3. Do an active learning strategy. But, don’t do something you’ve never done before.

As you plan your lecture, integrate at least one active learning strategy to engage students. But, this is not the time to experiment with a new teaching strategy. Use a teaching strategy you have done in class before (or one you’ve practiced with others). You want to convey confidence and authority, and you don’t want to feel like things in the classroom are out of control.


Final Tips:


Remember, if you are invited to campus, it means you are on the final list of candidates. Congratulations! The search committee members see something special in you that might make you a good fit for their department. They have invested time and resources and they want to get to know you. Be authentic. Show them who you are as a teacher and what kind of colleague you will be.

Keep Learning! 2 More Resources to Help You Prepare for Your Teaching Demonstration:

  1. For more tips to help you prepare for your teaching demonstration and a list of questions to ask before you visit the campus, download the free Teaching Demonstration Success Guide.

  2. Do you lead professional development programs for future faculty? Get my new online course for your whole campus! One registration fee = unlimited number of participants! Course: The Faculty Job Interview: How to Prepare for Your Teaching Demonstration


This article has also been published on LinkedIn.


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